From the Corporate World to the Developing World
In 1996, brothers Joe and Jeff Berninger left successful, private-sector careers at IBM and Procter & Gamble to address poverty in Guatemala. The Berningers first became interested in Guatemala in the early 1990s during a visit to the country. Inspired by their experiences, Jeff took time off to volunteer in the Guatemalan school system. In his classroom and throughout the school, Jeff noticed that teachers lacked access to the most basic resources, including textbooks, maps, reference materials, and technology. Students spent most of their learning time copying from the chalkboard. They quickly became bored with school, and their lack of motivation led to high dropout rates. Jeff decided to help the school get the resources they needed to improve learning outcomes for the young people of the community.
Jeff enlisted his brother’s help and got a small grant to set up the first textbook rental program at La Labor School, on the outskirts of Guatemala City. Jeff and Joe based their lending model on the farm cooperatives they knew from their upbringing in rural Indiana.
Since its humble beginnings 20 years ago, the textbook program has expanded to 184 schools in 14 of Guatemala's 22 departments. The organization has significantly increased its geographic and programmatic reach. Today, CoEd is recognized as one of the leading development nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in Guatemala.
- Learn more about CoEd's educational programs in Guatemala.
- Read more about our international support and recognition.
- Learn more about our history in Rewriting the Future, a book highlighting our work in Guatemala. Receive a free copy when you make a $25 donation to CoEd through this special link.